In marine environments bacterial microfoulers are an important determinant for the settlement of algal and animal macrofoulers. At the same time fouling is usually subject to seasonal fluctuation. Additionally, the seagrass Zostera marina
is prone to microfouling, although this marine spermatophyte is known to be chemically defended against bacterial settlers. Spermatophytes are often capable of induced or activated defences against biological enemies such as pathogens or herbivores, but it is still unknown whether they can fine-tune their antifouling-defence according to settlement pressure. We therefore assessed the seasonality of bacterial settlement pressure, defence against microsettlers and concentrations of a previously identified defence compound, rosmarinic acid, on surfaces of Z. marina
. All examined variables peaked in summer, while they tended to be lower in spring and autumn. The seasonality of defence activity and rosmarinic acid surface concentration was positively correlated with the seasonal fluctuation of fouling pressure, which suggests that Z. marina
can adjust its defence level to the relatively high bacterial fouling pressure in summer. Besides of biotic factors the seasonal change of environmental factors, such as nitrogen supply, and in particular temperature, also affected the defence level, either directly or through indirect effects on the microbial settlers.
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